As I finished my final manuscript for my winter 2010 release, one of my hardest tasks was the cutting of material. For the root odu of the diloggún, there are dozens upon dozens of stories, and I love them all. In the initial drafts, I wrote relentlessly. For the final draft, I cut considerably.
You must login to vote
While all the patakís of the diloggún have strength, for the sake of storytelling, especially written, some are stronger than others. In the odu Ejila Shebora (12 mouths), I cut ten of what I considered the weaker stories from my manuscript.
This is one of the weaker stories I still love, and want to share with my readers. Why do I love it so much? When one of my goddaughters, Mandy, read it, she wrote to me, “For a man, your description of labor is so vivid that I swear I NEVER want to have a child. How can you make it seem so real?”
I answered her, “Because I have skills!”
Here is the story of the separation of twins. Enjoy!
The Separation of Twins
The young girl lay in her bed, surrounded by women; she was exhausted, and in labor. With each contraction, she wanted to scream: With each contraction, she pushed, and then fell back into an exhausted heap. The pain was so overwhelming that she wished she could ball up, and die.
Her baby was coming. For nine months, she worried: She was too young; she was unprepared; she had no husband; she could not raise this child alone. Worries were far away from her now, and she felt only pain, and the increasing desire to push.
Instinctively, she grabbed both sides of her bed, the sheets ripping against her nails, as one final scream and desire to bear down overwhelmed her. As her own scream ended, a faint cry began where her voice trailed off, and she knew, “I am a mother.”
“It’s a boy,” one of the women told her.
Her body relaxed the way a body does when extreme pain ends; her muscles went limp, and a pleasant warmth rose where before there had been only agony. She was able to close her eyes, and breathe. This lasted only for a moment: the pain began again, deep in her belly. She panted. “Something’s wrong,” she gasped between breaths.
A woman parted her legs wider, and probed inside her with cold fingers. “There is another coming!”
It began again as a dull, deep throb, and then the pain burned deep in her belly. She felt herself opening up again, and cried as the baby slid out of her. She was too tired to scream.
Another faint cry came as the older women sighed in relief. “It’s a girl!” the same woman told her, smiling as if delivering great news.
Later, suckling her two children under the watchful eyes of her mother, she cried. “I cannot raise two children alone,” she told her mother. She was still sore from labor, and lay in bed, exhausted.
Her mother looked at her, worry on her brow. She herself had her own children quite young, but she had a husband and one child at a time. Her daughter was young, and alone, with two children at her breast. No man would want her now. The woman was old; she did not have the strength, or the health, to help her daughter raise babies. “There are many women who cannot have children, and would love to have a child such as yours. You can give one up, for adoption.”
“How do I decide? How can I give up just one?” The young girl sobbed the way young girls do when faced with a difficult question. She knew that even one child would be a burden, and there, she made up her mind. She would give both of her children up so they could have a better life. Her heart broke that day, but she knew that by giving them to another who had the means to raise them, she was making the ultimate sacrifice for her children. She did it out of love, because she loved them too much to have them suffer a life of poverty.
The boy found himself among the priests in Oyó; there, the temple priestesses raised him, and educated him. He served the orisha Shangó; never did he learn that he had a sister in a faraway land. Those in the temple had no idea that he was a twin. The girl found herself among the priests in Abeokuta, and there, the temple priestesses raised her, and educated her. She served the orisha Yemayá; never did she learn that she had a brother in a faraway land. Those in the temple had no idea that she was a twin.
Yet their lives were amazingly similar.
As each child matured, it found itself in service to the eldest and most powerful priest of the compound, and because their service was loyal, each learned the secrets of the orisha they served. It was a relationship borne of love, not duty, and all who came to pay homage to the city’s orisha found themselves in awe of their dedication and faith.
In time, when the eldest priest died, he left to his protégé all his wealth, possessions, and power. In their respective cities, the woman in Abeokuta and the man in Oyó, there was no priest with greater ashé, and everyone sought them out for advice and ebó.
Their wisdom grew; their fame spread, and each lived a life that their birth mother could not have given them. Her unselfish sacrifice gave her two children the chance to live a life greater than her own.
Still, no one ever knew that they were twins; and one child never met the other.